Thursday, November 23, 2017

Rebels: "Relics of the Old Republic" (Ep. 2.04)

I'm a bit reminded of Howl's Moving Castle with this pair of episodes. The clones live in an old Republic tank, travelling slowly around the desolate planet they live on. There are things, like laundry, hanging off the outside of the tank. Being just a 20-minute show, they don't spend much time delving around the innards of their home, but there's just enough there to make me wish that they had. The fact that Gregor's kind of crazy just heightens that desire. I mean, who knows what kind of stuff he has stashed in odd corners inside that thing.

The only problem in all of this is that someone called the Empire. "Hello, we have a Jedi here..." As if Kanan didn't have enough against the clones already.

But it does give us a chance to see the clones scoff at and make fun of their first AT-ATs. That was a fun moment. Oh, come on, it's not anything people haven't said before, so it's good, I suppose, to see the creators making fun of their own thing. And what do AT-ATs care?

All of that, and a new Inquisitor is coming to town...

So far, season two is shaping up to be far superior to season one. The themes being introduced are much more mature and interesting than the rather juvenile season one. Which is not to say that I don't expect there to be more juvenile hi-jinks, because even Clone Wars had its more juvenile moments.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rebels: "The Lost Commanders" (Ep. 2.03)

"There are questions, questions that need answering."

With those words Ahsoka is off to delve into the mystery of the Sith Lord she encountered last episode because, yeah, she doesn't know that Vader is Anakin. That conveniently takes her out of the picture for the moment, leaving our own little rebel band to go off on their own mission.

So... Ever wonder what happened to the clone troopers after the end of the Clone Wars? Did they end up on street corners holding bean cans while begging for handouts? I can't answer that question for you, not in a general sense, but we do get to find out what became of Captain Rex. Turns out he's on my least favorite planet in the galaxy. Oh! and hey! Gregor survived! Well, more or less. You remember him, right? The best part of my leasy favorite Clone Wars story arc ever.

The problem with all of this? Kanan was there when the clones turned on the Jedi. He watched his Master gunned down by clones she had served with for years, and he ran as they turned to do the same to him. They are both his betrayers and his reminder of his own guilt. Should be some interesting stuff if the clones stay around long enough, though there may be more betrayal in the offering.

Personally, I hope Rex stays around, and I hope we find out what happened to Cody, too, though I suspect nothing good if he's not with Rex.

Oh, and Zeb gets used as bait. Like worm bait.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Rebels: "The Siege of Lothal -- Part 2" (Ep. 2.02)

"We're going to have to smuggle ourselves off Lothal for a change."

Ezra meets Vader...

It doesn't go well.

It doesn't go well for anyone. 

Vader takes on a whole rebel fleet in his special TIE fighter, and we see why he's so feared as a pilot. Seriously, the stuff he does with his TIE is so far beyond anything we've seen from him, and we saw Anakin do a lot of impressive flying during Clone Wars.

The take away, though, and this is spoilery, is that Vader discovers his old apprentice is still alive.

Really, that's all I'm going to say about all of this (almost). It was a great start to season two and bringing Vader and Ahsoka together has me fully invested in where this is going to go.

All that and Lando makes an appearance.
And the Emperor.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Rebels: "The Siege of Lothal -- Part 1" (Ep. 2.01)

"I guess there is no going home."

It's Rebels week here at StrangePegs, which means two thing:
1. There will be an episode of Rebels reviewed each day!
2. No politics this week.
Except that it's Rebels, so there's a good chance there will be politics.

So... Kanan isn't happy. His and Hera's small rebel band of hooked up with the larger Rebel Alliance after the events that ended season one, and Kanan is feeling uncomfortable being a part of a larger organization. And taking orders. He really doesn't like having to take orders and be part of a chain of command.

Probably, he doesn't like having Ahsoka around, either, but that's just me saying that.  It doesn't come up in the episode.

Vader's not happy with the fact that our group has joined the larger organism, either, but that's because they're not on Lothal anymore, and Vader wants them back. Which means a plan...

Remember The Empire Strikes Back and that whole part where Han and Leia go to Bespin and... it's trap! This is kind of like that. Vader knows what's going to happen since, you know, he can see the future and all, which makes it a bit unfair. Evidently, Kanan never progressed in his training enough to be able to get glimpses of the future? I don't know. It's not a thing all Jedi can do, anyway, so maybe he just doesn't have that skill.

But, anyway, part of what happens is that Vader and Kallus order Minister Tua to make things... difficult... for the population of Lothal. This also echoes Empire; however, Tua doesn't have the stomach for it. Although she's a good little Nazi, um, Imperial agent, it seems that there are some things that go beyond even her ability to condone, very unlike our very own Republicans who seem just fine with rape as long as it's a good Republican boy doing the raping. [See, I told you. Politics.]

This episode is a good start to the season, and I didn't want to stop watching to write this.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Blade Runner 2049 (a movie review post)

Before I get started, this review is going to be full of spoilers. FULL! Seriously. I want to talk about this movie that, really, disappointed me, and I can't do that without talking spoilers. You've been warned.

But let's talk about Blade Runner first, which I reviewed a couple of months ago but didn't go into much detail when I did. I'm about to change that, so, if you haven't seen that movie, either, you might want to skip all of this.

We all know that Blade Runner was a visual masterpiece. It has been considered one of the most influential sci-fi movies of all time. Not as influential as Star Wars, of course, but, if you look at sci-fi movies after Blade Runner compared to before, you can see the difference.

However, it was the visuals that made the movie what it was. It's never just the visuals. The thing that was compelling about the movie, the thing that made it a great movie, was the question... I'll say it like this: What does it mean to be human? Which is actually the summation of many questions: Do I have a soul? Why do I have to die? What happens to me when I die? These are all questions Roy wants answers to.

Not that the movie definitively gives answers to any of these question, which is part of what makes the movie so compelling, but the scene at the end when Roy releases the dove is poignantly symbolic.

Blade Runner 2049 fails at all of the things that made the original so great.

Rather than the gritty realism that was so enticing in the first movie, 2049 is immaculately polished. Even the grit is polished. It's the difference between a box full of rocks and a box full of rocks that have been through a rock tumbler. Sure, they're prettier than a box of rocks, but all of the realism is gone.

Like, all of it. I mean, what the fuck is with the orange landscape with giant statues of naked women in high heels in porn poses? We're supposed to buy that as any sort of realism? And don't give me any "well, it's the future" crap, because that doesn't make the idea of that any more realistic, especially since that place would have to almost already exist so that it could be abandoned for 20-30 years by 2049. And a lot of the movie is like that: "cool" visuals for the sake of being cool but with no anchor to reality or purpose.

Not to mention how full of plot holes the movie is. Let's just talk about my "favorite" one:

Wallace has finally caught Deckard and wants some information from him that Deckard won't give up. Wallace informs Deckard that he will have to take him off-planet to torture him so that he'll talk. Wait, what? He needs to take him off-planet to torture him? What the fuck sense does that make? Wallace has already killed someone in his office, and he wasn't too worried about that. Sure, she was a replicant, but the movie tries to heavily imply that Deckard is, in fact, also a replicant -- though without coming out and saying it (it's like the writer, Hampton Fancher, can't decide if wants Deckard to be a replicant or not and, so, doesn't want to nail it down in case he changes his mind later) -- so what's the big deal about torturing Deckard in a place where, evidently, he routinely commits murder? Or whatever you call killing a replicant. Retiring?

Plus, no one knows Deckard is even still alive. He disappeared 30 or so years prior, so it's not like anyone is going to come looking for him.

The whole scenario is ridiculous and contrived so that Deckard can be put in a position for K to rescue him, something that wouldn't have been possible within the confines of Wallace's headquarters. I hate contrived bullshit that writers use to get themselves out of a hole they've put themselves in.

Other stupid things I'm not going to go into:
The threesome K has with his hologram and a prostitute. Not just that it happened but that it was inserted at a time when K should have been fleeing for his life, but, no, he has time to stop and have sex with a fucking hologram!

The junkyard people who decide to shoot down a police vehicle for no discernible reason and the divine intervention exercised by Wallace's lackey to get K out of it. Literally, K just shrugs off the fact that missiles rain down on his opponents and goes about his business, no questions asked.

The fact that this movie is no more than a bridge to set up for a replicant rebellion story line.

But the worst thing about the movie? It has no questions. There is nothing in this movie to give it any depth or, pardon the pun, soul. Its attempt to come to grips with the question, "Do replicants have souls?" is clumsy at best and results in a miracle-baby-orphan-savior cliche plot. Seriously, that's the best you could come up with, Fancher? It's not like that hasn't been done to death already. The child even has her own scar, of sorts, to mark as special, to mark her as "the one."

When the best sequel you can come up with to one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time is a cliche, maybe you should leave the original movie to stand alone. It didn't need a sequel. But, then, maybe you needed the money.